Better Said In a Letter

by Ken Harnisch

I watched a girl I loved get married once:
Of course it was to another guy;
Of course I turned away when they kissed;
(To no avail, of course)
And of course, their kiss was ashes
In my mouth.

So, never again
I’m of an age now where even the
Genteel hypocrisies
No longer suit the purposes
To which we must put them in life.

I can smile and wish her the best
Knowing distance and time will allow
That much. And there’s the fact I mean
It, from the depths of a heart
That always wanted her to not only survive
But prevail.

Better said in a letter, as my grandma
Used to say. The words in person, while the rice fluttered
Over her gown and through the remains of my hair,
Would be stilted and stammering;
The cold porridge on my tongue would
Not allow them to flow with either honesty
Or intent.

She knows; so do I.
So be it
Let us not belabor the moving on
With words which, however
Genuine, would be as dead as
A scarecrow in the windless cornfields

She has my legacy, should she
Seek to find it one whimsical day.
I grant her the ensuing smiles and maybe
A tear or two. She evoked such
Passion in me that turnabout
Would only be fair play.

And all better said, and better read
From the safety of miles,
Through the warm blue
Fog of time and memory.


Posted on 08/03/2012
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Alison McKenzie on 08/04/12 at 05:27 PM

"...With words which, however genuine, would be as dead as a scarecrow in the windless cornfields..." I've witnessed those dead words, and how you've captured that moment here so brilliantly.

Posted by George Hoerner on 08/04/12 at 05:54 PM

Very nicely done Ken. I might well have been more bitter. But then I do acknowledge that any of the women I've loved were no doubt better off without me. Except possibly the one with me now.

Posted by Christel Crews on 09/05/12 at 03:25 AM

well, stanza 6 is my favorite - i hope she finds happiness but i hope you do as well!

Posted by Jody Pratt on 10/05/12 at 04:23 AM

Better said in a letter indeed, if this is how that letter reads. Amazing, and I now have to read more by you.

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 10/11/12 at 01:43 PM

Unrequieted love is hard to swallow- indeed bitter pill. A letter would help. One Never knows. People get married for a variety of reasons (that have nothing to do with love)

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